Vibrant, dynamic, spirited, and forceful. The contemporary women's movement in India, which began in the late 1970s, fought valiantly against dark times marked by violence and misogyny. But it also celebrated - liberation, solidarity among women, and the joyous breaking away from patriarchy. Its members sang, performed, and painted, in order to draw attention to the vital issues of the time: dowry death, widow immolation, acid throwing, and rape. Featuring three hundred full-color images, Our Pictures, Our Words delivers a lavish pictorial history of the multifaceted Indian women's movement, conveyed through its most immediate visual representation: posters, drawings, pamphlets, reports, brochures, stickers, wall-writing, and photographs. The artwork reproduced here is part of Zubaan's six-year Poster Women project, which has attempted to locate and archive as many posters as possible in order to visually map the diversity of women's causes. Over the past three decades, women's concerns have matured and broadened to include a range of issues related to women's health, sexuality, the environment, literacy, the impact of religion and communal violence on women's lives, political participation, globalization, displacement, labor rights, disability rights, class and caste issues, and many more. To capture this multifaceted crusade, the posters in the book have been thematically organized and antated in detail, with information about the date the artwork was created, the campaign it supported, the designer, the concept behind the poster, the reaction to it, and short essays to further document the richness of the movement.
Laxmi Murthy is consulting editor for Himal Southasian and director of the Hri Institute for South Asian Research and Exchange. Rajashri Dasgupta is a freelance journalist specializing in gender, health, and human rights issues.